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Catholic school trustee will not apologize for Nazi, Pride post, says lawyer

Notice requesting judicial review of board motion censuring Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools trustee Monique LaGrange to be filed soon, her lawyer says
Trustee Monique LaGrange. File photo

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) trustee Monique LaGrange has no intention of issuing a letter of apology over a controversial social media post that led to her being censured by the board of trustees, according to her lawyer.

In an Albertan interview, James Kitchen said LaGrange has already told the board she will not be issuing a letter of apology, nor will she be taking sensitivity training about the Holocaust or the 2SLGBTQ1A+ community as required under a Sept. 26 motion censuring the first-time trustee.

“She has made it very clear to the board that she is not sorry and that she was not going to apologize, so it is a very strange thing for them to put in their sanctions that she has to apologize,” said Kitchen. 

“You’re telling somebody that they have to do something that they know they are not going to do. She’s made it very clear. This whole thing is about conscious and her saying what she thinks is actually true and not pretending she is sorry when she is not.”

In late August, trustee LaGrange posted on her personal Facebook account two photographs, one an historical photograph of a group of children holding Nazi flags with swastikas and one a contemporary photograph of children holding rainbow Pride flags. The meme post included a caption stating: “Brainwashing is brainwashing.”

In response to the social media post, the RDCRS board held an in-camera session on Sept. 25-26, at the conclusion of which the board found LaGrange in violation of the division’s Code of Conduct and the Education Act. As part of the censure, she is banned from taking part in committee meetings but remains on the board.

LaGrange has until the last week of December to comply with the required actions or face disciplinary action, which could include dismissal.

The 10,650-student RDCRS division includes schools in Innisfail and Olds.

Kitchen says he plans to file a notice with the Court of Kings Bench requesting a judicial review of the board motion censuring LaGrange.

“We will probably have it ready sometime in November,” he said.

That judicial process could ask for the motion to be revoked in whole or in part, he said, noting it can sometimes take up to a year to have such cases heard by the court.

“It’s not necessarily all or nothing,” he said. “The court could overturn parts of it and uphold parts of it. If I had to guess I would say that would probably be the most likely outcome. I would like to think the court would see the absurdity of the re-education sessions.”

Asked if LaGrange would like to get back on committees, he said, “Of course. She ran and she got voted in (as trustee) to actually do her job and they are not letting her do her job. That is certainly not going to happen absent a successful judicial review. I can’t imagine the board willing let her back on.”

In a release issued Oct. 16, the RDCRS board outlined the reasons for LaGrange being censured by motion on Sept. 26. Kitchen had requested the reasons be made public.

The board said LaGrange violated the Code of Conduct, and specifically the requirement for trustees to “commit themselves to dignified, ethical, professional and lawful conduct” and to represent the board “responsibly in all board-related matters with proper decorum and respect for others.”

In finding LaGrange breeched clause 6 and 22 of the Code of Conduct, the board said the meme “conveys a negative implication.” 

“The meme posted is not, on a reasonably objective standard, dignified nor professional . . . and was not viewed as inclusive or reflective of supportive school environments that welcome students of all orientations.

“In this case, the trustee placed her personal interests ahead of her public duty to carry out her duties in a dignified, ethical and professional manner, and to represent the board with proper decorum, which means that the trustee must conduct herself in her communications in a respectful and professional manner.

“Posting a highly controversial meme . . . does not reflect this standard.”

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